Devin Townsend - Empath review



Reviewer:
N/A

239 users:
8.17
Band: Devin Townsend
Album: Empath
Release date: March 2019


Disc I
01. Castaway
02. Genesis
03. Spirits Will Collide
04. Evermore
05. Sprite
06. Hear Me
07. Why
08. Borderlands
09. Requiem
10. Singularity
    1 - Adrift
    2 - I Am I
    3 - There Be Monsters
    4 - Curious Gods
    5 - Silicon Scientists
    6 - Here Comes The Sun

Disc II [Limited Edition bonus demos]
01. The Contrarian
02. King
03. The Waiting Kind
04. Empath
05. Methuselah
06. This Is Your Life
07. Gulag
08. Middle Aged Man
09. Total Collapse
10. Summer


Finally free of all artistic constraints once more, Devin Townsend makes just the album he wanted to make.

It's really hard to review a Devin Townsend record, although many people have done it before me on this very website. But in my defense, their records didn't have guest vocals from Nickelback's Chad Kroeger. So taking upon this monumental feat, let's first put Empath into context. I didn't really like the last few records as much, the last ones made under The Devin Townsend Project moniker. It felt like he kinda pushed himself into a creative corner where he wasn't really making the music that he wanted to make, but somehow still managed to make amazing music. So now that "The Project" has been put to rest, on Empath you can clearly feel a revitalized Townsend.

Even at its colossal almost 80 minutes of run time, Empath still feels like it has so much replayability and I never really felt like any moments were there just to fill space. I even listened to the extra 50 minutes of demos (which I advise you to do, since they're quite fun as well). I'm not the biggest Devin fan and I haven't listened to all of his records, but I have a fairly decent grasp of his work and I've seen him live. Don't expect me to pinpoint certain moments in certain songs and say "Ah, it sounds like what he did with [album]". I can tell that a lot of the stuff that he does on this album may trace back to prior works, but as a man whose career has lasted longer than my lifetime, could I blame him? Not all the things I do are that new and nobody blames me. Now, don't quote me on this one as some sort of authority, but I feel like Empath has so much that I haven't heard Devin do or do that well.

The album is a fucking mess. There's no way around it. But it's that beautiful kind of mess where you really don't know what you're gonna get and you're just along for the ride. This is probably the most fun metal album I've heard in a long time, one that didn't sacrifice artistic proficiency for "le random" edgy humour, which was something I didn't like as much in his Ziltoid albums. There is clearly a lot of "randomness" here, but it feels closer to something out of a Mr. Bungle record. A lot of it comes from how many influences and sounds Devin puts into the music, most of them from his previous works, as established, but lots of them feel so jovial and confident in a way that I have never seen him do. Quite like a culmination of all these years of music that he has blessed us with.

And even the lineup reflects that, with a lot of people who have been involved in his music previously, like Steve Vai, Anneke Van Giersbergen, and Ché Aimee Dorval and Morgan Ågren of Casualities Of Cool, but also a lot of newcomers from Decrepit Birth, Skyharbor, and... uhh... Nickelback (but you won't even notice the latter). There is quite a feeling that even with the quite ambitious run time he tried to achieve too much all at once, but it's so subdued by the awe of listening to it come together so seamlessly and unexpectedly. From the mountain-stomping heavy moments to the chill acoustics and the random sound effects and the already usual choirs, nothing feels too forced or like it isn't there with a purpose. This is clearly something that none other than Devin Townsend could have made.

I'm struggling to find anything negative to say about this. Self-indulgent and disjointed? Bah. I wouldn't want it any other way. Only Devin Townsend can make self-indulgent and disjointed sound this amazing. Once again, I'm just along for the fucking ride.


 



Written on 30.03.2019 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 6   Visited by: 280 users
31.03.2019 - 00:12
Starvynth
i c deaf people
Devin has great sense of humour, I guess he'd love your statement 'But in my defense, their records didn't have guest vocals from Nickelback's Chad Kroeger.'

Bought this album yesterday but not for my own pleasure, a friend of mine is a big Townsend fan since remote times and this was my gift for his birthday. I experienced that Empath is the perfect sound accompaniment for parties, even for mixed public and people of different ages. We've been spinning this yesterday night on continuous loop and didn't get tired of it.
Maybe alcohol is to blame, but I just can't remember any Nickelback references at all.
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31.03.2019 - 02:40
Lord Slothrop
I'm really digging this album and its near schizophrenic style. It's one of those dense works where I'm continually finding new melodies and parts I missed with earlier listens. And yeah, the demos are great as well. And like you I haven't heard all of his music (I only own 2... well, 3 now), but this is one I'll be revisiting for some time.
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31.03.2019 - 18:18
SatanicBlood
Written by Starvynth on 31.03.2019 at 00:12

Maybe alcohol is to blame, but I just can't remember any Nickelback references at all.

I've listened to this album on three different formats and I can say that Devin has so many layers on Hear Me that he buried that fuckers voice with no issue ha.
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http://idolatryblackmetal.bandcamp.com

Canadian black metal
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31.03.2019 - 18:25
MetalManic
Written by SatanicBlood on 31.03.2019 at 18:18

Written by Starvynth on 31.03.2019 at 00:12

Maybe alcohol is to blame, but I just can't remember any Nickelback references at all.

I've listened to this album on three different formats and I can say that Devin has so many layers on Hear Me that he buried that fuckers voice with no issue ha.


I think he's doing the harsh vocals on that track
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MetalManic
www.MetalManic.com
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01.04.2019 - 01:29
SatanicBlood
Written by MetalManic on 31.03.2019 at 18:25

Written by SatanicBlood on 31.03.2019 at 18:18

Written by Starvynth on 31.03.2019 at 00:12

Maybe alcohol is to blame, but I just can't remember any Nickelback references at all.

I've listened to this album on three different formats and I can say that Devin has so many layers on Hear Me that he buried that fuckers voice with no issue ha.


I think he's doing the harsh vocals on that track
If he was, I'm glad he went that route. I've been saying since I heard the news about Chad being on the record that this isn't going to be Chad doing his thing. It's Chad going in on Devin's terms, this is his album not Nickleback and at this point in his life, his most important release. He wouldn't let him have his way with it.
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http://idolatryblackmetal.bandcamp.com

Canadian black metal
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09.04.2019 - 00:31
Opethian
Some of the tracks off Empath are some of the heaviest shit he's ever done. All around a sound experience and I wouldn't have expected anything less from this madman. Congrats Devy!
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